APhA votes against assisting lethal injections

Apr 03, 2015, 3:56 PM EDT
Picture taken in June 2001 in Guatemala City during the execution by lethal injection of Tomas Cerrate Hernandez, for the kidnapping and murder, together with Luis Amilcar Cetino, of businesswoman Isabel de Botrán.
STR/AFP/Getty Images

While the American Pharmacists Association does not possess the legal authority to bar its members from participating in lethal injections for executions, it has urged members not to take part as the group beleives that executions are in direct conflict with the role of the pharmacist as a healthcare provider. CNN reports:

On Monday, the group voted at its annual meeting to adopt a ban as an official policy, stating that "such activities are fundamentally contrary to the role of pharmacists as healthcare providers."
This bolsters the association's previous positions to oppose the use of the term "drug" for chemicals used in lethal injection and to oppose laws that require or prohibit pharmacists from participation in lethal injection cases.
The group acted this week because of increased public attention on lethal injection, said Michelle Spinnler, spokeswoman for the American Pharmacists Association.
With the American Pharmacists Association taking a stance this week, the medical community is now united in its opposition to playing any role in capital punishment killings.
That could make it increasingly difficult for corrections departments to obtain the already scarce drugs for lethal injections and prompt death penalty states to return to previously shunned methods like firing squads, gas chambers and electric chairs, people on both sides of the issue said Tuesday.
“What happens in the course of an execution can be extremely ugly and excruciatingly painful,” said Cheryl Pilate, a Kansas City, Missouri, attorney who has represented two inmates in that state who were executed and another whose death sentence is on hold pending appeals.
“Alternative methods tend to make more plain what is actually happening when an execution occurs: It extinguishes a human life,” she said. “Frankly, there is no pretty way to do it.”